NFL Hot Press

Vic Beasley is Comparable to Dee Ford

Updated Sept. 27, 2014
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

A year ago at this time, there wasn't a lot of buzz that Auburn defensive end Dee Ford was a first-round prospect for the 2014 NFL Draft. Ford came up with some big performances to help vault Auburn into the national championship, and in the process, Ford's stock rose. Clemson defensive end/outside linebacker Vic Beasley has had more draft buzz entering his senior year, and scouts told us they feel that Beasley is a comparable player to Ford.

Last year, some teams had second-round grades on Ford while other teams like the Kansas City Chiefs had Ford graded in the first round. Scouts feel that is where Beasley is ending up; as someone who goes in the back half of the first round or the second round. Of course, where he goes will also depend on the other talent in the draft class that could push Beasley higher or drop him lower. Pass-rushers are always in demand, and Beasley has scheme flexibility to intrigue defensive coordinators.

Scouts say that even though the Beasley is undersized, he is strong for his size, similar to Ford. Both of them have natural edge-rushing skills and are very skilled at finding a way to get to the quarterback. The 6-foot-2 Beasley weighs in the 230, and he'll have to move to outside linebacker in the NFL. He could line up as a defensive end in obvious passing situations.

Scouts say that Ford may have better instincts than Beasley, but Beasley could have more speed and athleticism to be able to play a variety of linebacker positions in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. Overall, they are similar players that are being graded in the same range.

Beasley has four sacks, nine tackles, five tackles for a loss in three games so far this season. He had his way with Florida State left tackle Cameron Erving a week ago.

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A.J. Cann: Poor Man's Larry Warford

Updated Sept. 19, 2014
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

One draft prospect who has gotten a lot of hype recently is South Carolina senior guard A.J. Cann. Some have projected Cann to be the top guard for the 2015 NFL Draft and a potential first-round pick.

We spoke with NFL sources who feel that Cann is being overhyped to a degree. They like Cann and feel he is a quality player, but don't view him as a Thursday night prospect. They have Cann as a second- or third-round selection depending on the rest of the draft class.

Sources said that Cann is a similar style player, but not as good of a prospect as Detroit Lions guard Larry Warford or Oakland Raiders guard Gabe Jackson. Warford and Jackson were both early third-round picks in 2013 and 2014, respectively. League contacts say that Cann's game is similar to Warford and Jackson's in that he is a tough run blocker who can move people at the point of attack. He is strong and physical. However, they say that Cann struggles in space and as a result, he can have issues in pass protection. That could be seen last Saturday against Georgia, as Cann can have problems with interior speed rushers.

Our sources also said that while Cann (6-4, 311) has some size and strength to him, seeing him in person, he looks smaller than Warford (6-3, 330) or Jackson (6-3, 336). Considering Warford and Jackson were both third-round picks, league contacts said their teams probably wouldn't consider Cann until the third round. However, Warford was a steal as a third-round pick for the Lions, and Jackson is already starting for the Raiders, so Cann isn't in bad company when being discussed with those young guards.

Sources Identify Sleeper Quarterback

Updated Sept. 13, 2014
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

A year ago, there wasn't any draft hype about UCF quarterback Blake Bortles, but a great junior season gradually elevated Bortles nationally. His rise continued to make him the consensus top quarterback prospect, and he was the first one selected with the third-overall pick.

NFL sources we've spoken to identified a sleeper prospect who has really impressed them. That would be Colorado State quarterback Garrett Grayson. Sources say they don't think Grayson will have a meteoric rise like Bortles into the top 15, but they say they could see Grayson grading out in the first few rounds and be this year's Jimmy Garoppolo.

Grayson has definitely impressed NFL talent evaluators, as they feel that he has a quality arm that can make all the throws. He has some mobility to make throws on the run. His character receives good marks, as he is viewed as a good teammate with leadership skills. While Grayson isn't a big quarterback, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder is a similar build to Garoppolo. Grayson had a breakout junior season to lead Colorado State to a bowl game with a win over Washington State.

Grayson became the starter as a sophomore in 2012, but a broken collarbone shortened his season. In 2013, he completed 62 percent of his passes for 3,696 yards with 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. In two games this season, he has completed 44-of-81 passes for 568 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. He contributed to Colorado State's season opening win over Colorado, and he followed that up by throwing for 434 yards against Boise State.

Sources say they expect Grayson's stock to rise over his senior year and during the lead up to the 2015 NFL Draft. Grayson is a sleeper quarterback prospect right now, but he may not be a sleeper for much longer.

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Duke Johnson Viewed as Round 3-4 Prospect

Updated Sept. 10, 2014
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Last year, Miami running back Duke Johnson was on his way to having a big season of around 1,500 yards before breaking his ankle against Florida State and missing the final five games. The 5-foot-9, 206-pound running back has shown impressive speed and playmaking ability since breaking into the lineup as a freshman. However, some of our NFL sources have told us that they believe Johnson will end up grading out as a third- or fourth-round pick.

Sources say that in order to rise, Johnson will need to improve his contributions in pass blocking and prove that he can stay healthy. Johnson isn't the biggest of backs, so showing that he can play an entire season is important for him. If Johnson can do that, he could make it into the second day of the draft next year if he decides to declare as a junior. If can't stay healthy, Johnson could fall into day three.

In his 2014 debut, Johnson had 90 yards on 20 carries. He also had a long reception that was called back by a penalty. However, Johnson's offensive line and new starting quarterback didn't invoke a lot of confidence that they will get Johnson good running looks this season.

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Teams Differ Regarding Mariota, Winston

Updated Sept. 7, 2014
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

About a week ago, we discussed the view of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston from one NFL general manager's perspective. He felt that Mariota was vastly overrated and Winston was the real deal. We reached out to more sources from around the league and got some differing opinions regarding those quarterback prospects. Some other teams stated that Mariota is not overrated at all, and that they have major concerns about Winston.

A high-ranking scouting director told us that Mariota is not overrated at all and that he's better than Blake Bortles and every quarterback prospect from the 2014 draft. He noted that Mariota is a tough player with athleticism, arm strength and size. Sources from another team said that Mariota will need to be taught how to thrive as a pocket passer, but he is known to be a good kid and hard worker, so they think he can learn it. They said he is in the same boat entering the NFL as Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick were.

Multiple teams said they have serious off-the-field concerns with Winston. As one team put it, "off-the-field issues are real and more than advertised." Other sources said that Winston is liked in the Florida State locker room and viewed as a leader. He is said to work hard and balances his commitments to football and baseball. However, in time away from the athletic facilities, Winston has a habit of getting himself in trouble. Sources from a quarterback-needy team said they are very worried about character concerns with Winston and his maturity off the field.

While there are some differing opinions about Mariota and Winston, there is a consensus about UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley. Every team said that Hundley is overrated, but has a lot of talent and upside. The other players who had a consensus opinion regarding them were Oregon State's Sean Mannion and Baylor's Bryce Petty. They were at differing ends of the spectrum, as all teams liked Mannion and were down on Petty. Being described as average was the kindest words shared about Petty.

Things will change over the next several months, but entering the 2014 season, there already is a healthy debate about the top quarterback prospects.

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Sean Mannion Impresses Evaluators

Updated Sept. 5, 2014
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

We've heard from sources in the NFL scouting community that some of the highly touted quarterback prospects are overrated. Among those categorized like that were Oregon's Marcus Mariota and UCLA's Brett Hundley. One the other hand, one quarterback prospect who has impressed sources is Oregon State signal-caller Sean Mannion.

The NFL is a pass-happy league that has an endless demand for pocket passers like Mannion. The senior has shown improvement over his three seasons as a starter for Oregon State. He made a big jump as a junior when he completed 66.3 percent of his passes for 4,662 yards with 37 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. The 6-foot-5, 214-pounder has pocket presence, a good arm and field vision.

There are three things that Mannion must improve for the NFL. They are: accuracy, anticipation and footwork. He had a rough stretch last November that can be attributed to those weaknesses. One skill that Mannion does not possess is running ability. While he doesn't offer a running element, neither do a lot of the top quarterbacks in the NFL.

Sources with multiple teams say that of the senior quarterback prospects, they are intrigued with Mannion and eager to see how he performs in his final collegiate season. League contacts made a point to say that Mannion was a good player, while stating that Mariota and Hundley were overrated. With a big year, Mannion could merit first-round consideration.

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NFL GM: Brett Hundley is Overrated

Updated Sept. 3, 2014
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

About a week ago, we caught with an NFL general manager to discuss the 2015 quarterback prospects as they stand going into the 2014 season. Scroll down to read about the GM's view that Marcus Mariota is "vastly overrated" and Jameis Winston is the "real deal." Another quarterback who has received buzz as a potential first-round pick is UCLA's Brett Hundley. The Bruins' junior signal-caller has been a part of a resurgence in the UCLA program since taking over as the starter before the 2012 season.

The general manager told us he felt that Hundley was overrated. He said he hasn't seen Hundley have a defining game against a big opponent. Last year, Hundley struggled versus Stanford, but he played better against Oregon than his numbers indicated, but still tossed two interceptions while completing 13-of-19 passes for 64 yards, as the Ducks blew out the Bruins 42-14. Hundley needs to help his draft stock by showing that he has the ability to put the team on his back and take down an elite opponent.

Many project Hundley to becoming a first-round pick, but that NFL general manager was unconvinced and felt that Hundley was being overrated in these early projections. Perhaps Hundley will change that during is junior season.

Hundley completed 67 percent of his passes in 2013 for 3,071 yards with 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions. On the ground, he ran for 970 yards (748 net) and 11 scores. The 6-foot-3, 227-pounder has a physical skill set and is said to be a hard worker.

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